Well, I said I wasn't going to update until after my vacation but I lied, because something happened yesterday that is surely worthy of a quick blog post...

At around 11:30 am, I went to go meet some of my pals at a restaurant near Oxford Circus.  Now, we usually don't eat near the touristy places because, well, we're locals.  But, this place had good reviews for Mexican food and we wanted to see what the fuss was about. Yep, pretty decent!  Then, one of my pals had never been into the store Liberty (just around the corner), which is 5 floors of fabulousness.  If I could make a department store, I would make Liberty.  I love that place.

So, we walk in and wander....and wander...and wander.  At some point, I open my purse to see a text message from the Canadian (my purse which is always across my body) and I put my phone back in it.  And then we wander some more.  Eventually we head out the door and, like I always do when I leave a store or restaurant, I reach for my phone -- which isn't there.  I dig through my purse, no phone.

We go back inside and re-trace our steps...no phone.  I *know* I didn't set it down -- I'm just not really that person - and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm pretty attached to this damn thing (that is a whole 'nother discussion about technology addiction but we'll save for another day) and I just don't casually leave it places.  My girlfriends were saying the same thing -- they were pretty sure I wouldn't leave it somewhere.  And one of my friends had noticed some shady characters while we were in the elevator at one point.

So after retracing our steps and not finding the phone - we leave, the girls head home and I head to the Mac store.  I walk in say "I have a problem, I think my phone has been stolen" and she says "do you have iCloud?" and I responded that I did -- so we set to work.

I had never used iCloud since I had just downloaded it about 8 weeks ago, but as it turns out, it is pretty amazing.  I was able to get online, send a message about my missing phone TO my phone and send a remote lock message both of which would occur once the phone was back online.  We couldn't locate it because they had either turned it off, or, were underground on the tube.  At this point, there was nothing left to do, so I went home.

Once I was back near my computer, I turned on iCloud again and about 15 minutes later the phone showed up in East London in a neighborhood called Seven Sisters which is a pretty dodgy area.  This told me that I had not lost my phone inside the store, but someone had actually stolen it.  Nothing against living in dodgy 'hoods since I've lived in a lot of them and I tend to prefer them, but, just saying, it wasn't Chelsea.  Once the phone was online, the remote lock was activated (thus locking them out of my phone) and unless they were rockstar jailbreakers this prevented them from getting to my information.

I called the police (who were efficient and pleasant to work with) and filed a report.  I also called Liberty and spoke with customer service who said they would watch their cctv footage to see what they could find.  And then, the Canadian came home and we went and bought a new phone, because we were both fairly certain that phone was not going to be returned.

A couple of notes about this entire process:

1) We had phone insurance through our home insurance -- this saved us around $400 in replacing the phone.  We basically replaced the phone for the cost of the deductible. If you can get insurance, you should.

2) The process of contacting 3 (our mobile carrier) and reporting it lost and then filing a claim was incredibly efficient.  They took the serial number and blacklisted it (so the phone can never be used again by any carrier) and gave us a claim number.  We then called our insurance provider, gave them the claim number for the lost phone and within five minutes we were issued a check which would be direct deposited into our account.  Amazing.

3) I had a moment, when we were replacing the phone, when I felt grateful to be in a position to actually even be able to replace the phone.  I am very aware that so many people scrimp and save to be able to afford what I was able to replace within a few hours, and had their phone been stolen, they would have had little recourse except to hope that the police recovered it.  Money does not make you (or me) happy, but, what I realized is money can mitigate bad circumstances more easily. 

We had house insurance because we could afford to.  We had money that allowed us to replace the phone in the meantime.  Money took what could have been a truly shitty experience and made it so much easier.  I don't ever want to apologize what the Canadian and I both work hard for, but, I also think it's good to be aware of what you have so that you understand that when you can monetarily (or by donating time etc) ease someone else's suffering -- you should do that.  What I mean is, if you have the means to donate to a cause that resonates with you - then do it. Because I could have just as easily been me back in college when I was broke, and fighting with my family and living on (not kidding) tiny hotdogs and a gallon of milk living in a trailer.  I've been that person.  I've had $20 a week to eat on.  And if I had lost my phone then, I would never have been able to replace it.  So, I'm aware, and incredibly grateful, that this somewhat crummy day was easily remedied with a quick trip to the mall.  And let's face it. I lost a phone. It was never the end of the world, just kind of a bad day.

So, to all of the people who helped me yesterday (my friends, Liberty,  the police, the employees at the Regent street Mac store, the Canadian) thank you -- I appreciate you.  And, I'm grateful for the reminder of how fortunate I am and that I need to remember to look for opportunities to make other people's lives better as well however I can do that.

...for another list of what what I love about living here and what drives me crazy.  Since I believe in starting off on a good note, we'll go with love first.
Love about Living in London (alliteration at its finest!)
  • The Thames - The area around the Thames, particularly the Southbank, is just incredible.  My sister and her husband were in town for two weeks and stayed down south across the river.  When I'd visit them I'd take the tube to the Embankment station and walk across the river to Royal Festival Hall.  Walking across the river is just extraordinary -- the boats, the lights, the interactions you see between other humans (holding hands etc.).  One night I walked across right at sunset (note: Sunsets are VERY rare here) and it was just magical.
  • Traveling - I love living in a city that makes it easy to get anywhere I want to go.  It's so easy for getting around the UK (especially because we live right on the direct line to some of London's biggest train stations.  I can take one tube/train and be at Euston, Paddington, Marylebone, Waterloo, Clapham Junction, and  Charing Cross without ever having to change.  And the other ones are either a quick change or a 10 minute walk which makes traveling all around the UK and getting to France super easy. In fact, just yesterday I popped over to Oxford to meet a friend for lunch -- now that's cool.
  • Whole Foods - I realize that this is an American chain, born in my hometown of Austin, Texas, but the fact that there are several in London makes my heart sing.  I couldn't live anywhere else in the United Kingdom (or Europe for that matter) and have access to a WF.  I don't shop there often (because it's kind of a pain to get to) but when I need chips and salsa, proper bbq sauce, and brands from back home, it's there for me. It has saved my sanity on numerous occasions.
  • The British Library - in case you were wondering, yes, I have been working on my dissertation.  I found a writing group and we meet at the British Library which is just so cool.  I wouldn't say the outside is anything awesome, but the inside is just extraordinary.  It makes me feel like a serious scholar, rather than one who is just playing pretend. One day I actually want to go into the Map Room and look at maps -- all day.
  • The Food - long ago are the days when the Brits had crappy food.  London is a food mecca, and I couldn't live here my entire life and eat at all of the amazing restaurants here.  I love that when I have friends in town who want a gourmet food experience, I can take them to Michelin restaurants or to the Indian restaurant around the corner and it will all be fabulous. 
  • Escalators - Damn if I don't LOVE the way the English stay on the right hand side of the escalator when standing so that people who need to move fast can go on the left.  There are even signs "stand on the right" to remind you.  I just adore it -- so efficient.  And, if I might also say, I only went to one Olympic event (at Wembley stadium which is just gorgeous) but the efficiency at which the entire process was handled -- from picking up the tickets, to attending the event, to getting back to the tube -- was absolutely phenomenal.  Organized, professional, quiet, and perfectly executed. Well done GB.  I am CERTAIN it will not be anywhere near that amazing in Rio.

...and here's what drives me insane

  • Dog Poop - honestly, I step over so much dog shit every day.  It's disgusting.  I just can't imagine why people here let their dogs crap on the sidewalk and then leave it for people to step in.  I hope their karma catches up to them and they fall into an ocean of dog crap.  All of them. Together.
  • The Internet - is really rare here. Most businesses and coffee shops have not caught on to the fact that people will stay, drink and eat more if you give them a place to work with free Wi-Fi.  It's a little better now than it was a year ago, but it's nowhere near what it is in the States -- and I get tired of working at home just so I can have access to good internet.
  • Breakfast/Brunch -- Breakfast here is one thing: fried eggs, fried sausage, fried bacon, fried toast, broiled mushrooms and tomatoes and baked beans. It's fine for once in a blue moon but honestly, it's not all that good...it tastes like greasy diner food.  I miss the concept of brunch.  I miss poached eggs sitting in a bed of spinach on top of a crabcake.  I miss beautiful crepes stuffed with brie and roasted vegetables.  I miss delicate quiches with gorgeous salads.  And mimosas. And blueberry pancakes. And bloody marys.  The concept of brunch just doesn't really exist here and it's kind of a bummer.
  • Music -- I've lived in two of the most musical cities in the world (Austin and New Orleans) and I miss people who play music everywhere. Londoners just aren't really a musical bunch.  There's never music in restaurants or pubs or in the street.  It's just not a culture of live music -- and it was just fabulous the two times I've been to Ireland and been surrounded by music.  Love it!

And now, to end on a good note -- the Canadian and I are off to Turkey, Greece and Italy for a few weeks of R&R and sunshine (although the weather this last week has been just gorgeous!).  So I doubt I'll update much until we return home. 


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